For the second-straight year, Darcy Africa has won the Hardrock 100. This year, she did so by running 29:54. In the following interview, Darcy talks about how she managed to finish Hardrock when she never felt great, when and how she learned she was leading, and the help she got from her pacers Matt Hart and Krissy Moehl.
[Editor’s Note: We also interviewed Darcy Africa before the 2013 Hardrock 100 and captured her finish on video.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Darcy Africa, 2013 Hardrock 100 Interview Champion, Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Darcy Africa after her 2013 Hardrock 100 win. Congratulations, Darcy. How does it feel to be a repeat champion here at Hardrock?
Darcy Africa: It’s kind of surreal, I guess.
iRF: You’ve been doing the ultra thing for a long time, but this is up there.
Africa: Yeah, it is. It’s great. It’s just such a beautiful course. It’s a special place.
iRF: It is. You’ve had two strong, solid runs the last two years. How do you feel about your performance this year?
Africa: You know, I really went into it… I had some sort of life stressors leading up to it. I really just wanted to be out in the mountains and enjoying it. I think the majority of the race I was actually kind of just telling myself, Don’t take it so seriously. Just enjoy it. Enjoy the flowers. I really and truly was doing that. I didn’t really feel that I was in hyper race mode the most of the time. I knew how far ahead Diana (Finkel) was and I knew that she was doing her thing and I was doing my thing. I guess it worked in my favor.
iRF: Yeah, it’s hard to “race” Hardrock for 100 miles or any length of time. It’s your own journey. You really have to take care of yourself.
Africa: Yeah, it really is. It really is.
iRF: As you’ve seen the last two years, you run your own race and unfortunately Diana had to drop both years very late in the race with a big lead. I guess you found out at KT. You have 12 miles left at Hardrock and you know you’re hours behind Diana at that point. What goes through your head? Was it a crew member out there or an aid station member…?
Africa: No, actually we came into the aid station and I was with Krissy Moehl and I guess one of the women at the aid station said, “You’re first woman.” I didn’t hear her. Krissy heard her. She didn’t want them to tell me, so she kind of kept it from me for a little bit. Then we left the aid station together and then she gave me the news that Diana had dropped. I was just kind of shocked for a little while—just like, Whoa, it happened again? Oh, man. So then we just tried to stay steady. Somebody had said that Darla (Askew) was relatively close at one point. So I think we were trying to make sure we weren’t going to get caught. So we just stayed steady, and the last downhill we really just hammered. We pushed it.
iRF: Your steady at some point became pretty hard.
Africa: We pushed it at the end for sure.
iRF: Rumor at the Mineral Creek crossing was that you were pretty focused.
Africa: We were focused. Krissy realized that we could go under 30 hours. Right at the end that became, “Okay, let’s go under 30 hours.”
iRF: That’s pretty big—I mean it’s arbitrary—but it’s nice. Did you go under 30 hours last year as well?
Africa: Yeah, I think I was 29:09. I think I was trying to get under 29 hours. That didn’t happen.
iRF: I heard reports from early in the race that you felt like a snail on the uphills.
Africa: I did. The ups were really challenging for me, but I felt great on the downhills.
iRF: Any real low patches or you just didn’t have that top-end strength?
Africa: Yeah, I just think I didn’t spend a ton of time at altitude this year, so yeah, the climbs were just challenging for me. I felt like my heart or my chest was exploding basically. So just in turn I just tried to enjoy it as much as I could.
iRF: But no real low points or anything?
Africa: Not really. Sort of that time right before the sun comes up I got a little cold and a little sleepy and a little bit nauseous, but we got up and over Oscars and started descending into Chapman and then it was like, “Okay, the sun is coming up; everything is going to be okay.”
iRF: You were fortunate in that you had two really good friends as pacers and two people who know Hardrock and have a ton of ultra experience. What was that like having Matt Hart and Krissy Moehl out there?
Africa: It was so fun. We had a great time. We didn’t talk a lot, but it’s just great to have them out there. It just helped me. It was good energy yesterday and the day before, and I needed that. I needed that extra energy out there, so it was great.
iRF: Got anything else planned for this year?
Africa: Yeah, I’ve got some good stuff planned. Yeah, Krissy and I have another adventure coming up that we’ll soon be talking more about.
iRF: What time of year might this be?
Africa: This is going to happen in late August. I’m signed up for UROC. I think that’s about it.
iRF: Go for something a little shorter.
Africa: Maybe potentially the Telluride/Dakota’s race in Telluride.
Africa: Yeah, if I can pull it off.
iRF: They have an eight-mile version if you need a little break.
Africa: That might be nice.
iRF: The up and down.
Africa: That would be nice—eight miles. That would be good.
iRF: I have to ask, you’re now the two-time champion of Hardrock. Are you maybe coming back next year?
Africa: Absolutely. I think I kind of have to now because it will be my fifth. Then I’ll be in the club, so I think I’ll have to.
iRF: You’ll be a post-doctoral at this distance.
Africa: I think I do. This is four and next year will be five, so I guess I have to try for five.
iRF: Congratulations on this finish and the three others. We look forward to seeing you back here next year.
iRF: One quick bonus question. You didn’t have Sophia here this year. How excited are you to see her?
Africa: I’m so excited to get home and see her. It was bittersweet. It was hard not to have her here, but…
iRF: A little easier at times?
Africa: A little, yeah.
iRF and Africa: Hi Sophia! Princess Sophia!
Africa: Miss you!